Tennis great Billie Jean King was at the CenturyLink Center Wednesday helping some young women on the road to futures without limitations.
King was guest speaker for Girls Inc.'s annual luncheon. The girls got the chance to meet a woman who lived a dream and King got the chance to listen to young women with dreams that are just beginning to form.
Years ago, some goals were more difficult to achieve for women. King said she was lucky. The men in her family were very supportive.
“That meant a lot to me as a child,” she said. “I really went, 'whoa, he actually cares as much about me in sports as my brother?' And there were no possibilities for women in sports. There were no professional sports and that's what I dreamed about."
Girls Inc. serves nearly 1,000 girls per year and 17 percent of those children are in and out of foster care.
Jaraya Williams is a teen mom and in foster care. She leans on Girls Inc. for support, "balancing between going to school and having a two year-old. It's hard but I can do it."
The lunch was not just to raise money for the organization but offered a time to ask one great in this world how she got there, how she achieved so much as not only a world-class athlete but as a voice for social justice and equality.
King said, “You want to have passion and purpose. That usually makes for happiness and for inner success. So anytime a child or any of us, at any age, has passion and purpose about something it's amazing how much I think people are happier."
Jaraya said, "I believe you can be anything you want to be as long as you put your mind to it and as long as you don't let, like Billie Jean said, people define you and people tell you who you are. You have to know who you are and go by that."
It was an inspiration to be strong, smart and bold no matter how long it takes to exceed expectations.
All proceeds from the lunch go to support Girls Inc. educational, cultural and recreational programs.